Mechanically, the 351 Cleveland mill had issues. The blue exhaust smoke was, however, a simple fix. Clogged oil return holes were the culprit. That aside, Alan wanted the 1973 to have the proper performance level of a late '60s Mustang. He points out that, “I really did not want to destroy the originality of the drivetrain other than the mods I made, which are pretty much undetectable."
While he was up to the task of tackling the bodywork, the engine side was another issue. For that, Alan enlisted the services of Frank Bash, the owner of Bash Speed Shop in Langhorne, Pennsylvania. Bash was a local legend with the street and strip crowd. Known for building killer engines, he took the Mach 1 into his shop to do the engine rebuild.
Bash gave the 351 the full treatment. It was bored 0.030-inch over and a new set of SpeedPro flat-top pistons were installed, while the stock steel crank was polished and the entire rotating assembly balanced and blueprinted. A hotter Crane Wolverine Blue Racer bumpstick was also added. The cast-iron heads were completely redone and received new Federal Mogul intake and exhaust valves, valvesprings, and rocker arms. They were also fully ported and polished. This meant that a deeper set of lungs was needed. This was accomplished by replacing the stock cast-iron intake and two-barrel carb with an Edelbrock Performer four-barrel dual-plane intake mated to an Edelbrock Performer 600-cfm carb. While this combination greatly increased inbound airflow, the spent gases also needed a swifter exit. The stock cast-iron exhaust manifolds, and single exhaust, gave way to a set of Hooker Headers mated to a dual exhaust system backed by a set of throaty Flowmaster mufflers. The original three-speed automatic was also retained, but freshened up and given a B&M shift kit. In terms of delivering the additional power, Alan stated, “I replaced the original 2.75:1 rear with a 3.50:1, which really made a huge off-the-line and low-end difference, but the engine was screaming and the Flowmasters were deafening at about 3,200 rpm on the road at 70-75 mph. I dropped back to the 3.00:1 rear as a reasonable compromise between performance and driveability. A 3.25:1 probably would have been OK too, but the 3.50:1 rear was definitely the most fun!"
As with most custom projects, there is always a fair dose of bling under the hood. This didn't escape Alan when the engine was placed back in the engine bay. Those big Cleveland heads deserved cast finned Mustang valve covers and a matching oval air cleaner," he recalls. “It also deserved a chrome alternator, master cylinder cover, upper shock mounts, coil, breather cap, as well as stainless steel hoses and hardware."
Ride quality was another area he addressed. Since the car sat for so many years, Alan opted to replace every suspension component. The installation of Gabriel Hijacker gas shocks and polyurethane bushings went a long way in firming up the ride. That was further enhanced by a set 17x8.5 American Racing Torq Thrust II wheels wrapped in P235/50R17 Continental TouringContact AS tires at all four corners. That remedy served two purposes—a better ride, and improved visuals.
With the body and propulsion sorted, Alan focused on the last part of the rebuild—the interior. He points out that, “The interior is essentially stock; it's hard to improve on the original colors and design. I reupholstered the seats and installed new factory reproduction style carpeting and replaced the door panels, but the woodgrain inserts, cranks, handles, and other interior panels are original. The headliner and sun visors are also original and as new."
The entire project spanned two years. “I completed reassembling it in September 2000, on the day before its first trophy at the Adirondack Nationals in Lake George, New York," he recalls. “It was kind of daring to go on a 600-mile interstate round trip in a car I had never really driven, other than around the block. My wife, Lois, said, ‘We can always turn back.' So, we gave it a shot. I stopped at the first rest area to look underneath to see if anything was leaking or falling off. It was all good. We went and won the huge trophy for Favorite Mustang. The hard part was finding room for the trophy inside the car for the ride back home." Over the years, Alan has enjoyed the Mach 1 and can be regularly spotted at the numerous shows that take place every weekend in the Philadelphia area.